18. A second chance
“How am I still alive?” I repeated my question, the lack of response from her side making me even more anxious.
“Don’t.” I didn’t want her to calm me down- I wanted her to be honest.
“Listen, I will tell you everything, but the doctor said that you need to rest right now. Please!”
“Answer me, goddammit. I have the right to know!”
I could count on one hand all the times that I had ever raised my voice at Riley since we first met all those years ago- this was by far the worst one but I had to know the truth.
“Do you know how mates recognise each other in the shifter world? Sometime after they touch for the first time, a text appears somewhere on their bodies. A line of what they will hear their mate say around them at one point.”
A shiver ran down my spine as I listened to her speak, her words making the hairs at the back of my neck stand up. I was too stunned to react though. My mysterious tattoo. Callum’s words at the restaurant. The text written on his abs. The connection I felt with him, the attraction.
Riley gave me a second to collect my thoughts before she continued again. “Shifters heal quickly and on their own. That’s why you saw Callum’s gunshot wounds disappear- he told me about it.”
A wave of relief washed over me at the confirmation that he made it out alive.
“When he found you....” Riley paused, her voice trembling as she struggled to speak. Tears pooled in her eyes, and I knew what she was going to say. “You were nearly gone, Scarlett- we almost lost you. Mahon killed the bastard who did that to you, but you barely had a pulse by the time he reached you.”
“Did he turn me?”
“What? No! Of course not. This is not a movie, Scarlett.”
“Funny, my life sure feels like it right now.”
Riley rolled her eyes as if what I was saying was unrealistic. Ha!
“He didn’t turn you. He could have marked you as his mate to give you his shifter healing abilities, but he did not want to force you into the mate bond without your consent if it worked. So he did the next best thing- Mahon licked your neck wound to heal it because the lick of a shifter mate has healing powers.”
I was lost for words, which was a rare occurrence for me. To know that I had a bear lick my wound was bizarre but not as much as understanding that I had been brought back from the dead. There was something so life-altering in acknowledging that you were on the brink of death but you got another chance to remain amongst the living.
Yet, that was not the most dumfounding revelation of the day- what left me shaken was the discovery that I had a destined mate, whatever that actually entailed, and that it was none other than Callum Andrews.
A man who I had accused of playing a prank on me because of the words that now appeared faintly on my arm.
A man who I ran out on because I discovered that he had slept with my best friend, and whom I suspected was just playing some sick game with us.
A man- half-beast, half-human- who put his own life at risk to save me, even when I told him to stay away.
He was my saviour, my protector- my supposed soulmate.
Was this the answer to all those questions I had?
The idea of having a mate was so foreign to me. But the more I pondered about it, the more I realised that it was actually not as shocking as I thought. Almost like under the many layers of common sense in mind, I knew that it was true.
“I didn’t mean to be the one to tell you about your mate, Scar- this is really a conversation for you and Callum to have.”
I smiled at how well my best friend knew me, understanding what was going on in my head when I was lost amongst my own thoughts.
“I’m sure he will answer all the questions that you want to ask and if you still have some, I am happy to tell you everything that I know about mates, and the Moon and Sun Goddesses.”
“Goddesses?” My mouth nearly hit the floor of the mention of not one but two such deities.
“Yes- Sol and Selene. They remind me of you and me.” Riley laughed. “If I get the chance to meet with them again, I promise to introduce you- you will love their attitude.”
I was not sure whether this day could get any weirder, but I was past the point of being surprised by now, so I just rolled with it.
“One thing I can tell you, my dear,” Riley continued,” is that Callum is an amazing guy, and I can definitely see why Sol decided that you two are perfect for each other. I care for you both immensely and I know he can make you very happy- like you deserve to be- IF you let him. So can you promise me to keep an open mind before you decide anything?”
What was with everyone asking me to keep an open mind? Surely the fact that I had still not run a mile was telling enough of just how open-minded I was.
“Did he bribe you? Because I swear that he said the same to me moments before he turned into a bear in that cabin.” I tried to keep a straight face but I couldn’t hold it for too long, both of us eventually bursting into uninhibited laughter.
“There is one more thing that I wanted to tell you.” Riley looked away as she started to chew her lip again.
I jumped out of bed, my eyes ready to pop out. “Don’t tell me that you are pregnant?”
A pretend slap landed on my shoulder while Riley scolded me. “WHAT? Seriously, Scarlett- stop with the crazy ideas, woman.”
“Can you blame me? I have just discovered that things that I never imagined were real exist. By now, I half expect someone to tell me that the ridiculous, never-ending soap that you and I have been watching for ages has actually come to an end,” I giggled at our inner joke.
“Oh please, hell will freeze over before that happens.” My best friend snickered like a schoolgirl in turn. “Joke aside, the boys and I are having our official, public mating ceremony in the coming days, and I would love it if you can be there for it.”
My heart fluttered with happiness for Riley. Even if this world was all new and strange to me, she seemed to have found her happy-ever-after here and I was thrilled for her.
“It’s kind of a big deal because we are merging the Windcrest wolf pack and the Fire Dragons clan under our triad’s leadership, and this would make the move official. But essentially, it’s the shifter equivalent of a wedding ceremony, and I was wondering.....would you be my maid-of-honour?”
I threw my arms around her neck, squealing probably a bit too loudly for her liking. “IS THAT EVEN A QUESTION!” Yeah, I was a tad overexcited. “Of course. I can’t wait! And you have to tell me everything about the ceremony.”
But then reality kicked in like a bucket of ice-cold water being poured over me. “Actually, I am not sure if I will be able to stay here after Armstrong’s men found me- it will probably be best if I keep moving until the trial.”
It pained me that I was going to miss one of the most important moments in my best friend’s life, yet now that I had seen what Armstrong was capable of, I didn’t really have a choice.
Oddly, Riley didn’t seem even the slightest bit phased by what I just told her. “You are not going anywhere, Scar.” Her reassuring smile reminded me that Riley was not the top security and protection expert in the country for no reason. “Armstrong’s men found you because the rogue wolf shifters who kidnapped you called them. But all those goons are dead now and we have made sure that there is no way for them to trace you here again. My parents even put a powerful warlock protection spell to ensure that no one from the supernatural world could track you using magic either.”
I relaxed as I listened to her, relieved that I did not have to leave. I didn’t want to. She was here and I had already taken a liking to the area. And the fact that Callum was here made me want to kick and scream at the idea of going away from him.
“Not to mention that you will have two wolf packs, one dragon clan and a bear sleuth looking out for you, so there is no chance that your old boss is getting anywhere close to you.”
“Oh.” That was all I could utter, feeling overwhelmed by how protected I was here and how many people had my back.
The knocks on the door interrupted our conversation and drew our attention to the entrance of the room. I was ready to tear off the head of the person who dared to intrude on our long-overdue heart-to-heart moment.
Except, when the dark brown head with gorgeous blue eyes popped from around the door, all my anger fizzled out in seconds because there was no one else that I wanted to talk to right now. Not even Riley.
“Ah, I see that someone is here to see you.” She smirked when she saw my visitor. “I’ll leave you two alone.”
Riley looked at me one last time before she got up to leave the room, her hand gently squeezing mine. “I’m sorry,” I muttered shyly.
“Don’t be- I know what it’s like. And I wouldn’t want to get in the way of that mate pull.”
When she said that, something clicked inside my mind- I finally had a name for the undeniable and intense tug that kept leading me to Callum!
In a few quick steps, she disappeared out of the room, leaving just the two of us behind. My heart threatened to explode with every step closer that he took towards me while I sat on the bed and admired the man who stood in front of me. The way he looked at me in awe, like I was some miracle that had come to life or a masterpiece within his reach, made my cheeks burn with heat.
“And no funny business, you two,” Riley shouted from the corridor, making both of us grin like idiots.
No cliffhanger ending this time, lovelies. I think I have tortured you enough lately.🙈
I loved reading all your theories over the last few chapters on how Scar survived, and I hope you are not too disappointed that she is still human, but we need at least one fully human, kick-ass female in this series (Riley has her shifter heritage!).
Then again, Scar and Callum still haven’t marked and mated each other, so who knows what the future holds....🤷🤷(Trust me, I don’t either because my drafts are only 6 chapters ahead 🤣).
And yes, you read it right- we will be getting a chapter or two on our favourite triad’s official mating ceremony! 🥰 Sooo excited about it!
This story is nowhere near over, so I hope you are ready for the emotional rollercoaster that is still to come but, in the meantime, there will be some super cute and insanely hot moments coming Scar and Callum’s way over the next couple of weeks. Let’s just say that the 🌶️ will be making a return very soon, and you all know what that means 😉😉
Don’t forget to comment if you enjoyed the chapter- I love waking up to your comments in the morning!
Have a lovely weekend and see you on Tuesday,